NOLA Scribe : Cracking The Hornets’ Concentration Just Prior To Tipoff

Posted in Basketball at 5:44 pm by

The Hornets visit Denver later tonight to start a Western Conference first-round playoff that would’ve taken place without the services of Tyson Chandler had the New Orleans C not flunked a physical after being traded to Oklahoma City earlier this year. Armed with the knowledge Chandler could well be on the block again in the offseason, the Times-Picayune’s John Reid raises the matter at a rather sensitive in franchise history.

The nixed deal sent a message to the Hornets that despite their franchise-record 56 victories in 2007-08, the team’s brass was willing to trade a starter to acquire expiring contracts and lower payroll.

“You never know what the future holds, so you’ve got to take every game like its your last,” said Chandler, who said his sprained left ankle is still not completely healed, but he will start tonight in Game 1 at Denver. “That’s how I’ve got to look at it.”

Yet rumors persist, especially on the Internet, about potential maneuvers. Ten days ago, the Dallas Mavericks reported in a blog that Mavs owner Mark Cuban might be willing to take the Hornets’ two worst contracts if they included Paul in the deal. Coach Byron Scott said he cracked up after reading the report and responded by saying that hell has to freeze over before they consider trading Paul.

A few days later, another Internet report stated the Hornets would be interested in trading West if they could not draw enough interest for Chandler. West, who makes a shade under $9 million a season, is a two-time All-Star and has a more cap friendly salary to entice other teams.

This week, the New York Daily News reported that Phoenix Suns center Shaquille O’Neal thinks he is coming to New Orleans in exchange for Chandler.

“It’s all about us staying professional, and hopefully we’ll do things in the offseason to make us better than we are this year — that’s the goal,” West said. “You just have to wait to see what the team is going to look like.”

It is apparent, even with West and Paul playing at All-Star levels, the Hornets are not one of the top teams in the Western Conference, based on their playoff seeding.

“This summer, we’re going have to do some tinkering and find some other pieces to the puzzle, but I love our core guys,” Scott said.

Hey, how about those pesky internet rumors? None of which can possibly gain further traction when they are repeated in a daily newspaper (which — suprise!— is published on the internet).

Courier-Journal : Feds Investigating Pitino Extortion Claim

Posted in Basketball, The Law at 2:29 pm by

Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino might’ve well woken up this morning and determined, “Robert Parish isn’t walking thru that door….but if he did, it would be really nice if he clobbered the towel guy’s wife.”  The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Eric Crawford reports Pitino claims he’s the victim of an unspecified extortion attempt.

Pitino gave no specifics on the actions he claims are being taken against him, but said in the statement, “I intend to vigorously defend my reputation and the character of my family against any criminal scheme to extort money.”

Louisville attorney Thomas Clay later called the newspaper and said he represents the woman who is under FBI investigation. He declined to provide details of her claims or to identify her, but when told that WDRB 41 had named her as Karen Sypher, the wife of U of L basketball equipment manager Tim Sypher, he said he did not “take issue” with that.

“There is a federal investigation going on, and there may be criminal charges placed against her as a result of what coach Pitino has brought to the attention of the FBI,” Clay said. “. . . There are no counter allegations, and as far as I am concerned this criminal investigation is going to proceed to a logical conclusion and I hope that we can put this matter behind us as quickly as possible.”

Clay said his client has been interviewed by the FBI, but declined to offer more specifics.

FBI spokesman David Beyer confirmed that Pitino told the agency last month that he “was the victim of an apparent extortion and we have an ongoing investigation.

Hopefully, The Last Word On Citi Field’s Obstructed Views

Posted in Baseball at 1:37 pm by

Pic swiped from yarlyitsanthony‘s twitpic feed (h/t Metstweets).   The Mets and Brewers are tied at 1 in the top of the 4th, with the Elijah Dukes-hating Nelson Figueroa on the mound for the hosts, and the ever-versatile Fernando Tatis playing 2nd in place of the red-hot Luis Castillo.

Dear Yankee Fans With More Money Than Brains : (Many) Good Seats Still Are Still Available

Posted in Baseball, New York, New York, The Marketplace, Ugly New Stadiums at 4:44 am by

The Yankees claimed a plethora of empty seats for Thursday’s new Stadium opener against Cleveland were due to sponsors’ tickets not being including in the paid tally.  No such excuse was available for Friday’s matinee, and there are estimates of as many as 7000 unsold tickets for yesterday’s 22-4 humiliation. River Avenue Blues‘ Benjamin Kabak  tries to make sense of all those vacancies.

According to AP reports from the game, these Legends Suites usually sell for between $500 and $2625. Reporters at the game estimated that around half of those seats remained empty for the 1 p.m. start of the game. Behind that ” in the field seats that go for $375 per game or $325 as part of a package ” seemingly half of the seats remained empty as well.

Meanwhile, those of us watching the game at home are continually struck by the Legends Suite seats. They look like executive desk chairs or Business Class airline seats and less like a ballpark. The fans sitting in them often look like they don™t know what™s happening, and one fan was golf-clapping during Derek Jeter™s home run. The people most noticeable and TV ” those sitting closest to the field ” are somehow transcending a baseball game.

Yankee Stadium is still new. It™s got a lot of nooks and crazy, a Great Hall, some fancy food, and a lot of areas to explore. Right now, the Yankees are banking on the distractions as the cause of this seemingly muted fan outpouring. The empty seats are another matter, but this year, at least, the team is hamstrung by the high prices.

Start Planning (& Practicing) For The Angry Samoans’ Visit To Austin

Posted in Rock Und Roll at 2:04 am by

Metal Mike Saunders and his latest incarnation of the Angry Samoans are playing Austin’s Red 7 next Saturday, but the real action might well take place the following afternoon. Mr. Saunders it touting an “Anti-Talent Contest” to take place Sunday the 26th at an as-yet-undisclosed location. While the ruled of engagement might be rather close to those from the event above, Mike has helpfully provided a list of potential songs via a MySpace bulletin. More after the jump  : Read the rest of this entry »


Paramour To The Stars : Pavano’s Much More Than Sir Sucks-A-Lot

Posted in Baseball at 11:11 pm by

Former Yankee  Carl Pavano will take the hill tomorrow afternoon against the Bombers, an momentuous occasion that led the NYC press corps to pester the pitcher’s one-time girlfriend, actress/fashion designer/baseball blogger Alyssa Milano on her recent visit to Citi Field.   Newsday’s David Lennon, who may or may not own a VHS copy of “Teen Steam”, took careful notes.

Nobody wants to be good more than Carl,” Milano told reporters Saturday before the Mets’ 1-0 victory over the Brewers.

When a reporter replied, “Really?!” Milano responded: “Yeah, absolutely. He’s a competitor. You think he wakes up every day and is just content sucking? No!

“The guy wants to play good baseball. With everything the media says about him, he probably says 100 times worse in his own head. He’s a good guy, and he’s a major competitor.”

When a reporter informed Milano that Yankees fans booed Pavano during Thursday’s pregame introductions, Milano said: “I feel bad for him. I just think it’s been a head thing for him. If I were him, I don’t think I would’ve stayed in the American League.”

When she learned that Pavano will start Sunday against the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett, Milano said, “Yeah, that’s not going to be pretty.”

It’s Clear (And Creamy) To Bondy : Sheff’s 500th Was A “Tainted Milestone”

Posted in Baseball at 4:19 pm by

While the trio of Johan Santana, J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez combined on a 6-hit, shutout of Milwaukee this afternoon, there’s an highlight from the Mets’  come-from-behind, 5-4 win Friday night that’s stuck in the craw of the New York Daily News’ Fillip Bondy.  Of Mets fans’ rapturous reaction to Gary Sheffield’s 500th career HR, Bondy sneers, “you don’t turn your back on history, even if it is a bit tainted.”

“Everything happens for a reason,” Sheffield would say. “There’s a reason I hit 19 homers instead of 20 last year. Doing it on the biggest stage, it makes it that much more special to me.” Then he talked a bit piously about “a higher purpose” and “a bigger reason.”

Sheffield is only the 25th player to enter the 500 Club, the fourth oldest, yet his accomplishment deserves one of the larger asterisks handed out in the steroid era. His election to the Hall of Fame is far from assured, despite this statistical feat. Sheffield has admitted to using a performance-enhancing cream back in 2001 while claiming he had no idea at the time about its chemical makeup or potency. He is named in the Mitchell Report.

His narrative on that subject is about as believable as the tales we have been hearing from Marion Jones and Barry Bonds all these years. Friday night, no reporter was going to bother Sheffield about such things when the slugger showed up at the postgame press conference with two children on his knees and his wife at his side. And again, if you think the crowd at Citi Field cared in the least about any of this in the seventh inning, down a run, then you don’t know much about baseball fans. They’d cheer the cream itself, right there in the container, if they thought it could win them a pennant.

Steven Wells Submits There’s A WWL Commentator Even More Disliked Than Joe Morgan

Posted in Football, Sports TV at 9:58 am by

The recent announcement that Fox Soccer Channel had claimed US TV rights for the Champions League was greeted with the CSTB headline, “Next Autumn, You Won’t Have Tommy Smyth To Kick Around Nearly As Much”.  Though careful enough not to compare ESPN’s Smyth to Richard Nixon, the Guardian’s Steven Wells credits Smyth’s goal description, “what a bulge of the old onion bag that was” as  ” the most annoying catchphrase in commentary history” (“the huge ESPN security operation that followed Smyth’s Australian death threat was, with grim inevitability, called Operation Onion Bag”).

Unsurprisingly, many American Canadian, Pacific and Australasian fans have called for the catchphrase to be retired “ along with Smyth himself. “He’s even been known to say, ‘I know this annoys some people when I say it, but he really bulged the old bag there,” groans 34-year-old Lazar Treschan who runs the www.nomoreonionbags.com website with a 31-year-old expat Irishman, Cass Crockatt.

Crockatt is particularly appalled by Smyth’s brogue, which is as powerful now as when Smyth emigrated to the US in 1963. “In each of the years that he’s left County Louth, his accent has gotten stronger to such an extent that he’s now 94% angry leprechaun.”

Smyth’s allegedly buffed accent, says Crockett, smacks of cod-Irish affectation on par with ersatz bacchanalia of the US version of St Patrick’s day (Smyth was grand marshal of the New York parade in 2008 and an Irish folk singer wrote a song in celebration) and the culture of the “plastic Paddy” pub.|

But it’s not just the old onion bag bulging that upsets Smyth’s legions of detractors. Crockett claims, for instance, that Smyth has a quixotic grasp of the tactics, laws and facts of the game. But what really irritates the anti-Smyth massive is the man’s relentlessly unfunny upbeat banter.

“He’s Ray Stokes, basically,” says Crockatt, referring to the catchphrase-happy factory manager in When The Whistle Blows (the shitcom-within-a-show in Extras). “Are you having a laugh?”


Your Status As A Grade-A Masshole Is Confirmed…

Posted in Free Expression at 6:30 pm by

…if you wake up one morning with the above tattoo.  (image swiped from Townie News.com)

Will Fenway’s Prog-Rocking, Harry Anderson Lookalike Takeover The Globe

Posted in Baseball, non-sporting journalism, The Marketplace at 12:10 pm by

Maybe, if the competing paper has their facts straight. From WBZ.com :

According to the Boston Herald, Henry told the New York Times “ which is trying to sell its 17-percent stake in the Sox “ that if he bought the Times piece of the Red Sox, he would also take the Globe “off their hands.”

There was no official offer made, the paper reported.

In an email to the Herald, Henry said:

“Baseball fans rely heavily on newspapers. No one wants to see a newspaper with a great, long-term history go away. Losing the Globe, the Herald or any New England paper is a big loss for the Red Sox.”

The Times has demanded a total of $20 million in savings from the Globe’s 13 unions within a month, or it has threatened to shutter the newspaper